Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stitches West 2014

This past weekend I attended my second Stitches West event. Last year I was able to spend a few days at this yarn-lover's paradise, but I was only able to get away for one day this year. Lauren and I left Sacramento really early Saturday morning and arrived in Santa Clara with plenty of time to spare.

Interestingly enough, I went to Santa Clara University for four years and never had the desire to attend Stitches West until after I graduated. Luckily though, Santa Clara is only a two hour drive from Sacramento so it was a pretty easy trip for me to make.

As soon as the market doors opened, Lauren and I calmly rushed over to Plucky Knitter to raid their "One Hit Wonders" bins. I snagged four skeins of fingering weight yarn, though I have no idea which bases they're made from nor do I know exactly which colorways they are. Oh well, they were only $15 apiece so I couldn't be too picky. I plan on using three of the skeins to knit a Color Affection shawl. 

After visiting Plucky Knitter, we decided to window shop before purchasing anything else. I'm so glad I did this. I came to Stitches West without any real plan of what I wanted to buy. After walking around all of the booths I realized which colors I loved and which brands I kept coming back to.

I definitely wanted to find yarn to knit up a Honey Cowl, so that was a top priority. I really like the feel and softness of Miss Babs Yowza! Whatta Skein!, and I found the perfect color...Floyd! I originally wanted to knit a red Honey Cowl, but this hot pink is just awesome! I've already started my cowl and I'm so happy with my choice of yarn and color.

After admiring all of the booths, I realized that I really wanted to knit a green cowl. I had a specific shade of green in mind and I was determined to find that perfect color. I found my green yarn at Kitty-Rabbit Kreations, and although I wish it was a thicker weight yarn, I love the color so much that I'll make the fingering weight work.

Last year at Stitches West I tried knitting with Square needles. I loved the feel of holding square shaped needles and I thought that my tension was more even when using them. Although I enjoy knitting, I'm not the best and I don't knit very frequently, so I thought I just needed more practice with the traditional circular needles and didn't purchase any Sqaures last year. Since then I've thought a lot about those needles and how much more enjoyable knitting was. I vowed that I'd buy a set this year since I couldn't get them off my mind. I bought Square circular needles with a firm 40 inch cable in size 8. I'm currently using them to knit my Honey Cowl and I love them; I'm so happy with this purchase.

This year I also participated in the stitch marker swap that was organized via Ravelry. Because I only had one day to shop, I didn't spend as much time hunting down and stalking swappers during market hours, but I did have fun trading with fellow swappers at the scheduled meetup in the evening. But more about the stitch marker swap in another post :)

All in all, I love Stitches West and I really hope I'll be able to go again next year. I discovered that I'm currently loving jewel tone colors and I'll always have a special place in my heart for cowls.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Overnight Oats

I know I'm a little late to the game, but overnight oats have been on my radar for awhile. I've been looking for a healthy breakfast option that will keep me full until lunch time; something that's easy and quick to make yet still offers a lot of nutrition. I was previously eating toast and almond butter for breakfast and later switched to instant oatmeal packets. Toast was okay but I often found myself snacking before lunch time. Instant oatmeal kept me full, but lately I haven't been able to get the consistency correct and it was driving me nuts. So the search for a new breakfast option began.

I've seen a lot of pictures of overnight oats on Instagram and Pinterest, so I decided to try them. Overnight oats are really simple to make, just add all of your ingredients in any type of container, stir, and refrigerate overnight. Mason jars are good to use because you can simply shake everything up, minimizing any potential messes. I made up several recipes after some research to experiment with different flavors and textures. I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit of a picky eater so there are a lot of flavor combinations I don't like. A lot of people like to add chia seeds to their oats as they offer nutritional benefits and create a thicker texture, but I don't like the gummy consistency of chia seeds so I left them out.

Here's a list of the different recipes I tried and a few notes about my likes and dislikes about them.

Trial 1:
1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup soy milk
16 chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- No flavor
- Not thick enough
- Chocolate chips tasted good, but were hard to eat because they were cold

Trial 2:
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup soy milk + 2 tablespoons in the morning
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Way too much vanilla, it tasted really alcohol-y
- The cinnamon helped mask the vanilla

Trial 3:
1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup soy milk mixed with 1/2 tablespoon almond butter
-Good flavor without being overpowering

I've been eating overnight oats for a week or so now, and have been sticking to the recipe from my third trial. I found a flavor and consistency that I enjoy and I've been looking forward to breakfast, so for now this is working for me. I'll probably experiment with different flavor combinations soon to keep my mornings more interesting :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lake Tahoe

This past weekend I went to Lake Tahoe with my family, Heather, and Lauren. It had been several years since I've gone to the snow and even longer since I went skiing.

I drove up Sunday mid-morning; the first time I've ever personally drove in the snow. It was a little scary when I wasn't able to see the road markings anymore, but at least I know I can do it now.

We spent the majority of Monday resting in the hotel. In the evening Lauren and I took Abby on the gondola down to the Northstar Village. By the time we made it down to the Village, many of the shops were already closed. Since it was freezing, we stopped at Starbucks and bought the Lake Tahoe mug from Starbucks' "You are Here" collection. I love the modernity of the mugs and want to collect one from each city or state I travel to. Exciting stuff right there!

On Tuesday we went skiing. I was hesitant at first as I haven't skied in 6 years, but the muscle memory quickly kicked in and I skied all day long without falling. I even got Lauren to enjoy skiing, so we're hoping to make another trip out before the snow season is over.

And of course, as soon I returned home I got sick and am still fighting a cold. As much as I hate being sick, I'm glad I wasn't feeling crummy on vacation.

Until next time, Tahoe!